The Umbrella Academy is back for a second season, and the show's soundtrack is just as good as the first time around. Showrunner Steven Blackman puts a focus on music in crafting the Hargreeves siblings' story, cramming just about as many songs as possible into each episode.
"The fun of music for me is that it's the other character of the show," Blackman tells T&C. "You invoke those wonderful emotions and feelings, and when you place it right, it just heightens the scene."
Unlike say Hans Zimmer's pulsing tones in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy, the Netflix superhero series is set to nostalgic bops—as this season is set in the 1960s, expect Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and Frank Sinatra to all make melodic appearances—and symbolic songs to set the tone of a scene—think a cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" for a scene set in a mental institution. (Hey, we never said it was subtle.)
Here, Blackman breaks down three iconic music moments in the show's second chapter:
"I love that song," Blackman says of the Cinderella classic, sang by classic crooner Perry Como, which introduces The Handler back into the story.
"The first time we saw, we're like, 'It works perfectly.' It's just a wonderful introduction. Kate [Walsh, who plays the high-ranking bureaucrat within the Temps Commission] has a wonderful stride, and it's shot where we just see her feet first and then you pan up to her face. And you're like, 'Uh-oh, the Handler's back.'"
The Swedish Cover of Adele's "Hello"
"I knew early on, before the show was written, I wanted to put a Swedish song in there," Blackman says, sharing that he wanted to musically reference the Swedes, a trio of time-traveling Nordic assassins.
"I happened to be lucky enough to find that Adele cover from a young woman in Sweden. She didn't record it for us, but it was beautiful."
He liked that the cover created something of a sonic bait-and-switch for the audience. "It was a great moment to think, you know what song is coming because you hear those opening few bars, and then to hear a beautiful Swedish voice singing it, I thought was great."
"Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"
Typically in television, a scene is written, and later, the music in said scene is planned out, but Blackman likes to work in reverse.
"I'm often driving and listening to a song, and I think, 'This would be a great song to have a fight to, or wouldn't this be a great song for Diego or Luther?'A lot of shows do the show and then add music after, but I do it the other way. I'm always thinking of the songs I want to use before the season’s ready," he says. "I really love to counterpoint music. Backstreet Boys shouldn't work well over that fight scene, but for some reason it does."
Want to listen to the whole season's soundtrack? Netflix pulled together a playlist on Spotify. Tune in.
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